George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 4 March 1792

To Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] 11 Oclock—A.M. March 4th 1792.

The enclosed came by the Post yesterday. I send it for your perusal.1

Have you had any conversation with Mr Ellicot respecting the completion of the Survey, & lots of the Federal City?—If so, what was the result?—He ought, if he undertakes it, to proceed to that place immediately—so as to be there at the proposed meeting of the Commissionrs.2

The Engravers say eight weeks is the shortest time in which the Plan can be engraved—(probably they may keep it eight months).3 Is not this misteriously strange!—Ellicot talked of getting you to walk with him to these People. The current in this City sets so strongly against the Federal City, that I believe nothing that can be avoided will ever be accomplished in it.

Are there any good Engravers in Boston? If so, would it not be well to obtain a copy (under some other pretext) and send it there, or even to London with out any one (even Ellicot’s) being appris’d of it?4 Yrs sincerely

Go: Washington

ALS, DLC: Jefferson Papers.

1The enclosure may have been David Stuart’s letter to GW of 26 Feb. concerning the progress of work in the Federal City and relations between Pierre L’Enfant and the commissioners for the District of Columbia.

2Jefferson and GW composed an undated agenda (D, in the writings of Jefferson and GW, DLC:GW), probably between 1 and 6 Mar., for the next meeting of the commissioners, which was to take place at Georgetown on 11 Mar. (see Daniel Carroll of Rock Creek to Jefferson, 6 Mar., Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 23:223). Jefferson suggested that the commissioners settle the matter of Daniel Carroll of Duddington’s demolished house; consider dropping legal proceedings against Isaac Roberdeau; employ Andrew Ellicott to finish laying out the Federal City and discuss his past and future wages; hire a superintendent and other officers; advertise for plans for the public buildings; prioritize work projects for the 1792 construction season, including a bridge over Rock Creek, wharves, a canal, cellars and foundations for the presidential mansion and the Capitol, and the making of bricks and the collection of other construction materials; and set the rate of compensation for L’Enfant. Jefferson probably sent this agenda to GW after receiving GW’s letter of 4 Mar., and GW made written comments on it before returning it to Jefferson, who used it to prepare his letter to the commissioners of 6 Mar. (see Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 23:224–28). After Jefferson’s comment on L’Enfant’s compensation, GW added, “Quary Stone to be raised by Skilfull people,” and he finished Jefferson’s “Loan” subheading with the phrase “on the Security of the State of Maryland 4 or 500,000 dollars.” GW then wrote: “The buildings, especially the Capitol, ought to be upon a scale far superior to any thing in this Country. The House for the President should also (in the design though not executed all at once) be upon a Commensurate scale. Measures, in my opinion ought to be taken for importing Highlanders & Germans as laborers—Mechanics also, if practicable. Carroll of Duddingtons Ho[use] ought not to be paid for by the Valuation rendered—but every material taken care of—& put up again (where they are not injured) in the manner they were before in a proper situation. Estimates &ca are sent to shew the views &ca of Majr LEnfant.”

3For the difficulties surrounding the engraving of Pierre L’Enfant’s plan in Philadelphia, see GW to Tobias Lear, 2, 14 Oct., Lear to GW, 6, 9, 11 Oct., GW to David Stuart, 20 Nov., L’Enfant to GW, 21 Nov. (first and second letters), and GW to L’Enfant, 28 Nov. 1791, 28 Feb. 1792. See also GW to the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, 6 Mar. 1792.

4In the end Jefferson did arrange to have the plan engraved in Boston (see Jefferson to GW, 11 July 1792, n.3).

Index Entries